If you’re considering a career in the Big 4, or in audit generally, you’ve probably heard that audit hours in the big 4 can be pretty long.
From my personal experience, in the first couple of years (when I was a Junior), I don’t think I ever worked past around 7:30pm. Those with careers outside of financial services may still find this quite late, 7:30pm in audit is consider an early finish To be honest, I never appreciated that I was staffed on a particularly ‘nice’ job during this period.
It was a few years in – and the promotion to Senior – when the hours really ramped up. As a Senior I worked on the audit of a very large US listed investment bank. Before being on the audit team, I had heard that IB audit hours are particularly bad, but I never appreciated that they were much worse than the hours I had worked previously. Fast forward to my first busy season on this IB, and I can confirm that the hours were indeed incredibly long.
Audit Hours during ‘Busy Season’
During busy season (Jan-March) many of the audit team would still be on client site at 11pm each evening (fuelled mostly by coffee and red bull). Given that I found my productivity fell off a cliff edge around 9pm, I would usually be one of the first to leave at around 10-11pm, which many considered early.
Although these audit hours may sound horrific (and often it was), there were some perks to this culture. We were given an evening food allowance (£12) to buy our dinner, meaning that we could eat pretty well. We would also all take a break from work and have dinner together as a team which was always quite fun. The firm that I worked for also offered staff the choice of getting a taxi back home if they worked past 10pm, and so getting home in the evening was always made easier.
So are audit hours long?
That said, I think this is very much determined by the client that you are working on. If you are working on a banking or financial services client in general, I think it would be probable that the hours are going to be tough. Work on an audit in a different industry, and you may have a different experience.